BURLINGTON, MA—INDIA New England News announced that it will honor Saheli founder Usha Vakil with its annual Lifetime Achievement Award. Ms. Vakil will receive the honor during the 13th annual Woman of the Year Awards Banquet on June 4 at Burlington Marriott Hotel in Burlington, MA.
The Lifetime Achievement Award, which is bestowed to a woman who has contributed to and dedicated her life and passion to community service, is sponsored by Sushil Tuli, President of Leader Bank. The Liftetime Achievement Award was inaugurated in 2014 and was conceptualized by Dr. Manju Sheth, President of INE MultiMedia, Inc., and host of INDIA New England News’ celebrity series Chai With Manju.
“There are many women who are trail blazers and have followed their passions for betterment of the community, and Usha is definitely a very special trail blazer,” said Dr. Sheth. “I personally congratulate her for her outstanding service to the community and for getting the Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Vakil, a resident of Hingham, MA, has been recognized among 20 Most Outstanding Women several times by INDIA New England News. She has been involved with Saheli since its inception 19 years ago. This year, Ms. Vakil is stepping down as Saheli’s president after 18 years, but will continue to serve on the organization’s board.
“The award is overwhelming,” said Ms. Vakil. “Saheli’s formidable work is not done by one person but by the committed volunteers and staff, support from the community and its leaders and nurturing by India Association of Greater Boston that planted the seed of Saheli 19 years back.”
Upendra Mishra, publisher of INDIA New England News, congratulated Ms. Vakil.
“At INDIA New England News and INE MultiMedia, we are very excited to bestow the Lifetime Achievement Award to Ms. Usha Vakil for an outstanding contribution she and her Saheli team have made to the community,” said Mr. Mishra, publisher of INDIA New England News. “Ms. Vakil and Saheli have really put the taboo issue of domestic violence in our community on the forefront. In addition, they have also made women empowerment an important issue in the community. By honoring Ms. Vakil, we are also honoring Saheli, a wonderful organization.”
In an interview with INDIA New England News in 2012, Ms. Vakil had said that while the growing numbers of South Asians in Massachusetts have contributed significantly to the quality of the American experience, for many, life presents anxieties of adaptation that are common to many immigrant communities.
“It is in order to address the realities of the lived experience of South Asians that we started a nonprofit organization such as SAHELI, with a particular focus on the needs of women, who are often the more vulnerable group during cultural transitions,” Ms. Vakil said. “Providing support to a woman in need and bringing a smile to her face is priceless. To see a woman stand on her feet and become independent is invaluable and to see a woman fight against injustice and stand up for her rights is an investment. I also enjoy and am amazed when the members of the community, from all walks of life, offer their services to help the cause. The network of not only woman but also of men is growing and strengthening the core of Saheli every single day. It gives me a great pleasure to see selfless people devoting their time and energy to this cause and I only hope one day we can eliminate domestic violence from the scene. The experience of Saheli has matured me, taught me compassion and patience and productively engaged me in supporting woman in need and be their friend.”
Sushil Tuli, president of Leader Bank, which sponsored the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 that went to Shishu Bharati Veteran Sipra Shah, applauded the decision to honor Ms. Vakil with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
“Leader Bank is honored to recognize Usha Vakil as this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Ms. Vakil’s work with Saheli to help encourage and support South Asian women across New England, and particularly her efforts to help combat and end domestic violence, has been nothing short of exemplary, and our entire community has been fortunate to have such a tireless advocate for this critical mission. On behalf of everyone at Leader Bank, I thank Ms. Vakil for her service and congratulate her for this well-deserved recognition,” Mr. Tuli said. “Leader Bank is thrilled to once again sponsor India New England’s Woman of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award. Every year, we see so many South Asian women across New England making important contributions, in business, politics and community service. Leader Bank has been lucky to work with many strong and influential women that have helped guide our growth, and I am personally humbled to help recognize the achievements and accomplishments of this year’s honorees.”